The European Council has recently agreed to increase the EU’s carbon reduction target to at least 40% in 2030 compared to 1990 levels, while Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) has also been explicitly included as eligible under a new NER400 funding programme.

The latter is seen as another important milestone for the development of CCS, and has been welcomed by both the Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA) and the Global CCS Institute.

The council has agreed that Member States should be free to choose the most appropriate technologies to reduce emissions with the target of at least 27% renewable energy in the mix by 2030, binding only at an EU level.

Also included was a renewed NER400 facility, aimed at ‘carbon capture and storage and renewables, with the scope extended to low carbon innovation in industrial sectors’.

Luke Warren, Chief Executive of the CCSA, commented, “The CCSA has long called for an ambitious, technology neutral 2030 energy and climate framework that enables support for CCS and we welcome today’s announcement. The conclusions recognise the importance of CCS – alongside renewables and energy efficiency – in delivering a secure future energy mix for Europe.”

“The inclusion of CCS alongside other low-carbon technologies is no doubt a result of the continued efforts of both the UK government and CCS partners across the Europe in disseminating the critical role of CCS. CCS remains the lowest cost route to meeting decarbonisation targets and we are pleased that this message has found its way into the final conclusions.”

‘Shot in the arm’

The Global CCS Institute has also welcomed the news and issued its own response. Andrew Purvis, Global CCS Institute, General Manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa, affirmed, “This statement explicitly recognises the significance of CCS technology as part of Europe’s climate change mitigation efforts and opens the door to significant further European Commission funding of CCS demonstration projects across the continent.”

“The new NER400 funding mechanism has the potential to provide a much needed shot in the arm to the deployment of CCS technology across Europe, helping to reinvigorate an industry which is crucial to helping the world meet its climate targets.”

“Whilst this agreement lays a firm foundation, the Commission and Member States must get on with the important task of delivering an integrated European CCS strategy with a view to meeting the goals of the EU Energy Roadmap 2050”

Luke Warren, Chief Executive of CCSA

Meanwhile, the Point Carbon analysis team at Thomson Reuters believes the targets decided upon were essentially in line with the expectations ahead of the council’s summit. “The tripartite 2030 targets are slightly weaker than proposed by the Commission. But given the complicated negotiations ahead of the meeting this is probably the maximum that was achievable factoring in 28 different opinions,” said Hæge Fjellheim a Senior Analyst at Thomson Reuters.

A 40% greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target means that the European carbon market (EU ETS) will face a more ambitious emission reduction pathway after 2020, says Point Carbon. Fjellheim continued, “Placing ‘at least’ in front of the 40% emission reduction target allows for deeper cuts if an ambitious global deal is agreed during the international climate negotiations in Paris next year.”

According to Point Carbon, the new measures will have direct implications on how Europe’s carbon market will look in the future.

‘Must get on’

Looking ahead even further, the CCSA suggests that the real work now begins – and all involved ‘must now get on’ with delivery of an integrated CCS strategy.

Warren added, “A binding target of at least 40% emissions reductions is absolutely crucial to achieving our energy and climate goals. By securing a renewable target at EU level, the UK government has ensured that individual Member States have the necessary flexibility to meet targets in the way that best suits their own circumstances.”

“Whilst this agreement lays a firm foundation, the Commission and Member States must get on with the important task of delivering an integrated European CCS strategy with a view to meeting the goals of the EU Energy Roadmap 2050. Today is positive news, and Europe has edged closer to regaining its position as the global leader in CCS.”